Colombia received a first shipment of 50,000 COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer on Monday and plans to start vaccinating on Feb. 20.
The batch arrived at the capital Bogota’s international airport at noon.
“This is not a personal triumph of anyone, to move forward with this vaccination plan is a country’s purpose,” said Colombian President Ivan Duque, who was there to receive the shipment. “This is not the time for populism, or fractions, or senseless criticisms. Here we all have to move forward,” he added.
Monday’s shipment is the first of a block of 1.6 million that will arrive over the next few days. The government said the goal is to vaccinate 1 million Colombians in the first 30 days.
Pfizer has signed a contract with the government to sell 10 million vaccines to the country. Vaccines from other pharmaceutical companies would arrive this month and in March.
Colombia will begin vaccinating 350,000 front-line health care workers and then plans to immunize its at-risk population. The government said it aims to vaccinate 35 million people this year.
Colombia is one of the last countries in Latin America to start vaccinations. Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica have received their first bulk shipment of vaccines and neighboring countries like Ecuador and Panama have also begun vaccinating their populations.
The South American country records almost 2.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 57,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University in the US.